Saturday 6 May 2017

News from Palestine

Sunday 6th May 1917

We have heard from Palestine about the doings of the 1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, in the aftermath of the unsatisfactory Second Battle of Gaza back in mid-April. They have been patrolling and salvaging. Yesterday a small party found six boxes of small arms ammunition, 71 sets of equipment, five Lee Enfield rifles and three identity discs from dead bodies. Another salvaging party recovered two discs from dead officers and thirty other ranks belonging to various units.  Patrols have found the Turks hard at work on defences against another attack on Gaza which both sides know will be coming at some point(1)

On a lighter note we have heard from the 1st Battalion. They are in tents near the village of Roclincourt, just north of Arras and a few miles behind the new front line. Today they played 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment at football, though the score, being, no doubt, top secret, was not divulged.  

On the Bullecourt battlefield today the Australians have been attacked by the enemy in the trenches they took a few days ago. The Germans employed flamethrowers, or flammenwerfers as they call them, and these proved highly effective, driving the 3rd Australians out of some of their line. However, reinforcements from 1st Australian Brigade halted the enemy and pushed him out, actually taking a little more trench than they had previously held in the process. Apparently the bravery of a man named Howell was instrumental in this German reversal and many are already saying he should receive a Victoria Cross for his actions(2).

Sources: X550/2/5; X550/6/8

(1) But not until 1st November.
(2) He did. Corporal (later Sergeant) George Julian Howell had dashed from cover and run parallel to the German advance, meaning he was in the open as the Germans advanced down the trench. He threw bombs at them until he was wounded, causing them to retreat and giving his comrades time to rally and to pursue the retiring Germans. Though wounded he survived the action.

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